Caroll Spinney, ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird puppeteer, retiring after almost 50 years

18 October, 2018, 00:48 | Author: Dominic Spencer
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Some of his final recording session will be included in the Sesame Street 50th anniversary special set to air in 2019 on HBO.

"I always thought: 'How fortunate for me that I got to play the two best muppets?'" he told the New York Times. "Big Bird helped me find my goal", he said. The actor said he plans to spend the rest of his life as an ambassador for Sesame Workshop at conventions and other public appearances. "I said, 'I think Big Bird might be more useful to the show if he were a child learning all the things we were teaching in the show.' And so he didn't know the alphabet, even, for instance".

While Big Bird was initially conceived as a "a amusing, dumb country yokel", Spinney encouraged producers to allow him to play the character as if "he's a child, a surrogate". "But the sheer artistry of Caroll is that he also brought Oscar to life and made him the most lovable Grouch in the world".

The world famous Big Bird has had a great flight in the hands of Spinney, having visited China with Bob Hope in 1979, danced with the Rockettes, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and named a "Living Legend" in 2000 by the Library of Congress. Matt Vogel, Spinney's apprentice, will take over Big Bird. And even Oscar, once in a while!

He was also the subject of the critically acclaimed 2014 documentary "I Am Big Bird" about his life as a master puppeteer.

"Before I came to Sesame Street, I didn't feel like what I was doing was very important", he admitted. He had met Jim Henson at a puppetry festival in 1962, and Henson invited him to be a part of this new show he was creating.

Spinney joined Sesame Street when it started back in 1969.

Caroll Spinney told The New York Times he was retiring from "Sesame Street" after portraying Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969. Vogel also fills the role of Count von Count on Sesame Street, while Jacobson now plays Grover, Bert and Guy Smiley on the series.



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